Cyber security investment welcomed, but calls for more leadership

Australia's cyber security announcement has been welcomed. Picture: Shutterstock
Australia's cyber security announcement has been welcomed. Picture: Shutterstock

The government's announcement of an extra $1.3 billion in spending on fighting cyber crime has been welcomed by the opposition and experts in the sector, but there are concerns more still needs to be done to ensure Australia is properly prepared.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a range of measures on Tuesday, just weeks after revealing Australian government organisations and businesses were under sustained cyber attack by a sophisticated state actor.

While the government hasn't said so publicly, it has widely been speculated that China was behind the attacks.

Labor's spokeswoman on Home Affairs Kristina Keneally said the promise of funding was good, but it was a "too little, too late" moment and the industry needed more leadership on the issue, including a dedicated minister for cyber security.

"We need to, as a country, have a active cyber defence posture," Ms Keneally said.

"We need to treat cyber security like it is a public health issue. That is, the government has a critical and leadership role to play in ensuring that the environment and the context in which we are operating is as strong as it can be."

Ms Keneally also said the government needed to invest properly to ensure there would be enough qualified people to fill the roles opening up at the Australian Signals Directorate and needed across the business world in cyber-security.

"We are not training enough people in Australia to meet the growing need for our cyber security workforce."

"Experts tell us 17,000 professionals will be needed by 2026 - we are not on track to meet that."

The wider cyber security industry has also welcomed the announcement. Professor Lesley Seebeck, chief executive of the Australian National University's Cyber Institute, said it was good to have resourcing behind the sector, and the $110 million a year was a "reasonable start".

"We need to get moving that's especially the case as the world is growing more unsettled geopolitically," Professor Seebeck said, pointing out that getting better at technology and influence was important, but that Australia needed a strategic framework around that.

"Power and consequence is being exerted through non-conventional means; we'll need to think quite differently about stability and our role in the region as a result," she said.


A former chief investment and advisory officer at the Digital Transformation Agency and former chief information officer at the Bureau of Meteorology, Professor Seebeck said cyber capability couldn't be viewed as a purely national security issue, despite its importance in that space.

"We cannot leave these technologies and their governance to only, or even primarily, to defence and national security-they are deeply intrinsic to growth our economy and a healthy society. We need to see the support given to the civilian capability needed to support democracy."

This story Cyber security investment welcomed amid calls for more leadership first appeared on The Canberra Times.


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